Thursday, July 12, 2007

Post-Festival Wrap Up

It's been really crazy here lately. The Folklife Festival finished up this past Sunday. It sure was a blast, but I'm glad to be back in my normal routine.

If you didn't catch my ridiculously extensive post detailing the festival last time, it was all about the folk traditions, musical and otherwise, of Virginia, Northern Ireland, and the Mekong River. Most of the time I worked in the Festival Marketplace, trying to hawk CD's to literally thousands of people. Since there were separate cashiers for everything, all me and the other interns did (as well as some of my bosses) was answer questions people had and basically just talk about every type of folk and world music you can imagine, be it with each other or the people coming through. For me at least, that was really fun. Whenever that was boring though, we could bounce around the festival listening to music and watching demonstrations.

At the risk of sounding fat, one of the funnest parts was eating ;) To go along with the theme, there was food from all the different cultures. We had everything from sweet basil chicken from Thailand to West African barbecue chicken with peanut sauce to Irish sausages rolled and baked in puffed pastry served with baked beans. But the best part was that it was all free to interns, including the delicious fresh squeezed lemonade, limeade, and mango juice.

But my actual favorite part of the festival was all the great music available all day and every night for free. With so much going on, I didn't get to see all the people I wanted to but I still heard plenty of great music. One of the most enjoyable was the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert. At the end a cajun fiddle group BeauSoleil played a great blend of authentic Cajun fiddle tunes well into the night. It really made me glad that I've gotten to experience Lousiana and Centenary (I know Shreveport isn't exactly Cajun-land, but hey, it's way closer than Tennessee). I wished I had some crawfish to chow down on - thanks to Maggie/Megan for showing me how to eat it and Tim for buying it for us every spring: yes, if you have no other reason, you can come to Centenary for the free crawfish boil during Preview Weekend.

Here are some shots I took while audio logging at one of the Virginia stages. Every performance and talk was recorded so that researchers can listen to first hand explanations of different cultures from around the world.

Click for VIDEO!

This is Scott Fore, a Virginia native and self-taught flatpicking guitarist who has won numerous national awards and contests. (This time, instead of bigger pictures, clicking the photos will take you to a link of a short, low quality video I filmed of the people performing)

Click for VIDEO!

Here is the Bou Counta Ndiaye Ensemble, a group of traditional griot singers and musicians from Senegal. They sing in Wolof, the indigenous language of the region, and their songs are about wars, kings, and basically the history of their people. After taking Francophone African Literature and learning about these traditions this past fall, actually getting to see an example of authentic West African culture was a rare and welcomed treat.

Click for VIDEO!

But my favorite group was Cephas & Wiggins, a Piedmont blues duo that I have to say felt like some of the most authentic music I had ever heard. Listening to it almost made me wish that everyone I know left me and my dog died, just so I could sing the Blues like they did. Every time they finished performing people would rush to the marketplace to buy their CD's. Although it's no substitute for the real thing, click on the picture to check out a lil clip of Cephas explaining the difference between Piedmont and Delta Blues.

Click for VIDEO!

Another great band was No Speed Limit, a bluegrass group out of Virginia. They played some great tunes during the first week of the festival and were one of the most popular requests at the marketplace. Click the photo to see them do a hard-driving rendition of an old song, "Ruby" and the guitarist even gets in some Deep Purple improv toward the end.

As you can tell there was a variety of music, and all of that was just from Virginia. At the other end of the mall were the Irish doing their thing with their cool accents, and in between the Mekong participants were bringing something from the other side of the world. All in all it was awesome.

If the Folklife Festival sounds like something you might like, then you should definitely try to make it next year. I hear Texas is going to be one of the cultures featured, and field researchers are already scouring that huge, greasy state (or atleast, that's what a local once described it to me as) for participants. Since 85% of Centenary is from Tejas, I'm sure yall will all enjoy whatever they got going on next Summer.

I think Piper is already asleep here, and I'm tired too. See ya next time.

Piper says hello!

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